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What have you been watching? Including Backstrom, Young Drunk Punk, 19-2, Spiral and Galavant

Posted on January 26, 2015 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Lots of new shows to deal with this past week, including 12 Monkeys. Unfortunately, it’s my busy time of the month, so I won’t be able to deal with them at length and there’s a few third-episode verdicts I’m going to have skip, too. Fortunately, though, all the new shows don’t really warrant full reviews…

Backstrom (US: Fox)
Despite having been canned by CBS straight after its pilot, this adaptation of Leif GW Persson’s Bäckström books has been resurrected over at Fox and once again demonstrates that the US really shouldn’t be adapting Nordic Noir. It stars Rainn Wilson from The Office as the eponymous Backstrom, a Portland police detective who’s best thought of as Gregory House MD but without the talent, the charm or the looks, bungling his way from crime scene to crime scene being lazy and offensive and being proved right because the script demands it, rather than because of any insight. So the producers think it very funny that Backstrom have the nearest - and indeed only - black person around arrested because he’s black so probably was involved in the crime. My, how comically racist! Except the black person is involved in the crime - how actually racist!

There’s some decent supporting characters, including an MMA-beat cop (Page Kennedy); a New Age medical examiner (Kristoffer Polaha from Ringer, Valentine, Life Unexpected), whom everyone reacts to like he’s English, even though he doesn’t even have an accent; an investigator whom everyone reacts to like she’s French, because she is (Beatrice Rosen); and Dennis Haysbert (The Unit, 24) as Backstrom’s boss. But this is as lazy as Backstrom himself, trying to fake being intelligent and gimmicky by having Backstrom ‘empathise’ (saying out loud, “I am character x, I feel y, therefore I would have done z”) and come up with insight such as “Anyone who says ‘Absolutely not’ is absolutely lying”, rather than actually being intelligent or having insight.

Weirdly, between moving from CBS to Fox, there’s been some recasting and a lot of the funnier and smarter stuff has been removed, making it worse not better than it was before.

Young Drunk Punk (Canada: City TV)
After last year’s slew of 80s nostalgia shows in the US, time for some 80s nostalgia from Canada, with Young Drunk Punk, in which two teenage nerd punk-wannabes search for their destinies after leaving high school. Despite being written by and starring Bruce McCulloch (Kids In The Hall) this is very much like the previous half dozen Canadian comedies that have come by in having a total laugh count of zero.

After the jump, 19-2, Arrow, Banshee, Constantine, Cougar Town, Elementary, The Flash, Galavant, Gotham, The Ground Floor, Hindsight, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Agent Carter, State of Affairs, Spiral (Engrenages) and Togetherness. One of them’s on the verge of getting recommended, one of them’s going to be dropped, and one of them is on the borderline. But which ones? You’ll find out after the jump.

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What have you been watching? Including The Edge of Tomorrow, A To Z, black-ish, Homeland, Manhattan Love Story and Arrow

Posted on October 13, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

I was away last week, as you hopefully noticed, and while I had high ambitions of watching lots of German TV and telling you all about it, I didn’t turn on my TV even once the whole time I was there. It’s almost like I have a life or something.

I also didn’t watch much of the usual shows while I was away - except on plane flights and Germany ain’t that far away - which given how many new shows have been starting up or airing their second or third episodes, has meant a weekend of catch-up TV. But I’m nearly there, bar the latest episode of Homeland.

Of last week's outright new shows on the main US networks, I’ve already reviewed The Flash, and I’ll be reviewing The Affair and Cristela either tomorrow or on Thursday. I might review Starz basketball comedy Survivor's Remorse and the Audience Network's manly-men MMA drama Kingdom, but they're possibly a bit sporty for me, so we'll see. I might also turn my eye to Canada's women-western Strange Empire, and Australian political drama Party Tricks, too, towards the end of the week.

But that's it for new new shows, so after the jump, I’ll be running through: A to Z, Arrow, Bad Judge, black-ish, The Blacklist, The Code, Doctor Who, Forever, Gotham, Gracepoint, Homeland, How To Get Away With Murder, Legends, Madam Secretary, Manhattan Love Story, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Plebs, Scorpion and Selfie. Which ones will I keep watching and which ones will I be dropping? Keep reading to find out.

But before that, strangely enough, despite the epic backlog, I did manage to watch a movie this week.

The Edge of Tomorrow (2013)
Cowardly Tom Cruise enters video game Groundhog Day when he kills an alien during a D-Day style military campaign and inherits its ability to put time into a loop. Emily Blunt then trains Cruise in how to be a proper soldier, so he can win the war, thoughtfully killing him each day to reset the time loop. A cross between a first-person shooter and the Allied invasion of Normandy, the film benefits a lot from Doug Liman’s more thoughtful approach to direction and Cruise does well at first as a snivelling PR guy who has to learn to become a more conventional Cruise hero. Ultimately not making a lot of sense, it nevertheless is an engrossing and above-average piece of science-fiction with some scary-arsed aliens and that probably would have done a whole lot better under its original title of All You Need Is Kill.

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Question of the week: is Community doomed now that Dan Harmon has left?

Posted on May 21, 2012 | comments | Bookmark and Share

Community

Today's news carried the somewhat shocking announcement that Community's creator and showrunner Dan Harmon is being replaced (involuntarily). This, of course, has got a lot of people worried. Is Community going to become more conventional and less interesting as a result? It's also got some people excited: is Community going to become more conventional and more funny as a result?

Which turns us neatly to this week's question:

Does replacing the creator of a show with a new showrunner ever lead to a better show?

There have, of course, been numerous cases where shows have got rid of their creator/showrunners. Rubicon's creator stood down as showrunner during the first episode, because he couldn't work out how to turn the show into a series. Whether that made the show better or not, it's hard to say, but it certainly became different. The new series of Doctor Who also became different once showrunner (and in some senses creator) Russell T Davies was replaced by Steven Moffat – some say it became better while others worse.

So can anyone think of any shows that undeniably became better once their creator departed for different climes, or can we simply assume Community is doomed now?

Answers below or on your own blog, please

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